The biggest news in the NFL so far on Friday has been the Arizona Cardinals agreeing to a two-year deal with tight end John Carlson, who was just released by the Minnesota Vikings. Since his breakout rookie and sophomore seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Carlson hasn’t done a lot stats-wise, but with a solid quarterback like Carson Palmer, he could do wonders for the Cardinals.
Before the 2013 NFL season began, Rob Housler was the big sleeper name among fantasy football and reality football gurus alike, but the young pass-catcher who was being compared to Jimmy Graham at the time missed a lot of time due to injury and didn’t play much when he was active, only catching 39 passes for 454 yards and one touchdown. That’s certainly enough to see he has potential, but the Cardinals obviously are looking in a different direction.
Arizona might be brining in Carlson to challenge Housler, but it’s way more likely the veteran was signed to be Palmer’s new security blanket. Larry Fitzgerald is a dream come true for any quarterback, but he can’t overcome double and triple teams in coverage every play. Carlson isn’t going to free up much of that, but he could easily catch 60 passes in Bruce Arians’ vertical passing scheme with an experienced signal-caller like Palmer under center.
This may seem like an under-the-radar signing now, but Carlson could easily make the Cardinals an 11-5 team in 2014 instead of the 10-6 team they were in 2013. That may not appear to be a huge difference, but it was enough to keep Arizona out of the playoffs this past season. That likely won’t happen again.